“I’m not a little kid anymore!” is a phrase you hear more and more from your five-year-old, and this early desire for independence perplexes you.
Should you encourage them in this desire, as many mothers do, so that they mature quickly? What are the drawbacks of that approach?
Your child’s desire for independence should not confuse you: a four- or five-year-old child—even a six-year-old—has to live out their childhood without being rushed.
- It’s okay if you treat them as an independent being, which means giving them reasonable responsibilities like putting away their stuff, putting their clothes on, and daily chores such as washing.
- The rituals of their daily life must be accomplished under your supervision or their father’s. Don’t ask so much from them that they can’t manage it or test them in things that aren’t age-appropriate. For example: say no to their watching the news with you and their father; even adults are unable to put up with it most the time!
- Stop repeating the phrase “You’re a big boy now” or “You’re a big girl”. Six- and five-year-old children have to live out their childhoods. Don’t behave as though they have wings that will carry them to maturity in the blink of an eye.
- Don’t discuss sensitive topics in their hearing, especially those that could generate worry like financial difficulty and, of course, domestic quarrels. It is better to do this behind closed doors.
- Pay attention to the answers you give to their many questions; don’t over-explain, but don’t be vague, either, to avoid creating even more questions. For example, to the question “Why did Talal’s father die?”, you could say, “He was very sick, and that’s something that can happen when elderly people get sick”.
- Always remember that lying about sensitive topics is not preferable, especially when you are discussing divorce, family quarrels or job loss, because this will complicate things with your child. Honesty and simplicity are always useful, like saying, “Your father and I are going through a rough patch”.